Saturday, 9 July 2016

The hills are alive...with the sound of puffing!

Saturday 9 July 2016

We slept well, although the village church bells go mental at 0645 each morning!  But by then the sun is over the mountain and it's warming up.

I was up at 0700, prepared my breakfast and sat outside to eat in the early sunshine.  I waved off our Belgian Motorhome neighbours as they drove off, then readied my bike and kit.  Cathy was having a well deserved lie in this morning so I tried to keep quiet in my 'trip over everything' sort of way! Dropping down from the campsite, I turned left and rode out of the village, heading west.  A combination of roads and excellent cycle paths soon found me in rhythm, humming to myself as I enjoyed the ride and the view.  I can't get over the beauty and cleanliness of these villages. What's really nice is that every house is different, unlike the endless rows of cloned boxes at home.  I had to make a few detours due to road and bridge closures; taking a closer look I suspect some of the bridges may have been damaged in the floods of last month in this area.  

I reversed my route, returning to ride through Simonswald - now the fun begins! Riding out of the village, the road started to climb, following the contour of the mountain - smooth roads with hairpins and a constant ascent of 6.5% according to the bike road signs.  The Germans are very precise - a rough 6% or 7% just isn't good enough!   It's also worth mentioning that every road and junction had signs for cars, bikes and hikers. I dropped down into my lowest gear and tried to pace myself, getting into a steady climbing cadence.  It wasn't lung-bursting, but the climb was relentless.  I stopped a couple of times to admire the view - also taking the opportunity to take in water and suck on an energy gel!  At one point a particularly severe hairpin had me thinking I was done, but I took a short break and continued at a steady pace, aiming for the next white marker, roughly 50m apart.  I had the 'Hiils are alive...' tune in my head as I rocked up the road. The traffic was kind and gave me plenty of space, but it still took me an hour to climb the 6 miles to the next village.  I turned left into the square and stopped to enjoy the moment. 

Turning around and pointing downhill, the fun began! My wingman - Ray - will quickly tell you I'm not a fast descender - unlike him.  I tend to feather the brakes all the way down, reaching the bottom of a hill long after him.  But this was a more gradual descent, although still challenging.  The road was very smooth and I could see the bends well in advance. Moreover the traffic was light, so I went for it.  I think this was my best descent ever.  I sat at the rear of the saddle, adjusting my positioning as I leant into the corners, touching the breaks on blind bends.  The descent kept me above 30mph all the down, my eyes were watering and it was exhilarating!  By the time I rolled into Simonswald after about 36 miles of cycling, I was ready for the coffee down at the water mill. Back at the van, Cathy was sat under the awning reading and I flopped into my chair, not quite believing my great ride. If I could do this  every day I might lose a little of the excess timber around my waist!

A quick change and I walked into the village to buy some food and draw out some cash. We then walked down to the village swimming pool again. Towels spread on the grass, we enjoyed our first swim of the day.  Once dried off I was hungry after my ride, so walked up to order some Currywurst and chips with a beer - amazing grub! Cathy joined me later for a glass of lager, followed by an ice cream each. The rest of the afternoon was gainfully employed sunbathing, swimming and snoozing, both waking each other up snoring! 

Back at Nido Cathy prepared dinner - duck breast with green beans and chickpeas. As the sun sank beneath the hills, it cooled down and the crickets started their evening serenade. Tomorrow we head  into France, but I've no doubt we'll return to the Black Forest. It's a beautiful place - clean air, amazing scenery and friendly, smiling people, who patiently tolerated our 'baby steps' attempts at speaking their language.  We'll be back. 

Post-ride coffee

Post-ride and post-swim currywurst, chips and pils!




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